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How do I Write a Non-Profit Mission Statement?

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  • Written By: Leah Bloom
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Typically, a non-profit mission statement briefly sums up what an organization does, who they do it for and where they do it. It may also include a succinct explanation of how or why the organization does its work. To write a non-profit mission statement, experts suggest gathering answers to these questions from the agency's board members, staff, donors and clients. Then, boil them down to the bare essentials to create a clear and powerful message that will explain to everyone why the organization exists.

To get an idea of what kind of language works in a mission statement, it may help to begin the writing process by reviewing the mission statements of other non-profit organizations. This will help you learn the standard formula. Looking at the missions of agencies whose services, client base or location are similar to yours will also give you insight on how your peers position themselves.

Once you have a sense of the language and rhythm typical for non-profit mission statements, begin crafting yours by brainstorming words and phrases that speak to your organization's work and values. Consider the people your agency serves and how you help them. Ask yourself why the organization thinks such work is important. The core ideas that emerge from these answers will form the basis of your mission statement.

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When putting these ideas together into a single statement, remember to keep it short. Experts recommend that a non-profit mission statement be no longer than three sentences, and some even say it should not exceed a single sentence. A brief statement is easier to remember, and a memorable mission statement is an important marketing tool. Also, a short statement can be used everywhere, from a radio sound bite to a T-shirt to a fundraising postcard.

Experts suggest that no matter how good the first draft of your non-profit mission statement sounds, it should still be considered a draft. The next step is to test it on people who were not involved in the writing. These individuals can point out jargon and missing information. Incorporate this feedback into your draft to create a working mission statement.

If you use this new mission statement consistently, it can become part of your organization's brand and identity. A non-profit mission statement does not have to be written in stone, however. As an organization evolves, its mission may also shift. If your agency undergoes significant changes, it may be worthwhile to re-evaluate its mission statement. By going through the above process again, you can realign the statement with your organization's new values and goals.

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